Preparing To Fall Back: How To Actually Sleep Better

As many of us anticipate gaining an extra hour of sleep this weekend, with the end of daylight savings, it’s important to remember that this small change in time can have a big impact. And while resetting the clocks may be easy, your body's internal clock may have a tougher time adjusting.

Why is the time change so hard for our bodies?

One of the biggest reasons this time change may leave us feeling tired, despite the fact that we’re gaining an hour, is because we don’t use the extra time to sleep. Instead we justify staying up later—usually longer than the hour we gain—which only leaves us feeling more tired and our bodies more confused.

On top of that, many of us don’t ease into the time change. We make the change all at once without giving our bodies time to adapt.

So…what can you do to ensure sound snoozing?

Add 15 minutes to your sleep schedule. To ensure that your body has time to gradually adjust to its new bedtime and wake-up time, start by adding 15 minutes.

That means starting this Wednesday; you’ll need to stay up 15 minutes later than usual and wake-up 15 minutes later than usual each day. That way by the time you reach Sunday, your sleep schedule should be adjusted a full hour.

Spend time outdoors. That’s right, getting exposure to sunlight—at the right time—can help your sleep cycle. By spending at least an hour outdoors on Sunday, especially during the morning, your internal clock will have an easier time adjusting.

Don’t skip exercise. Engaging in just 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or biking, each day can promote a good night’s sleep. By getting regular exercise, you are not only improving quality of sleep, you are also reducing your risk of sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

Enjoy some pillow talk. Instead of turning to smart phones or TVs, which can disrupt sleep, try engaging in bedtime conversation to catch up on your day, ease stress and relax. If you don’t feel like talking, gentle massage, cuddling or listening to music can have the same effect.

Keep Caffeine, Alcohol and Fatty Foods to a minimum. While we aren’t suggesting you cut these things out entirely, it’s important that you don’t indulge in these too close to bedtime.
  • Stay away from caffeine four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Stay away from alcohol four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Stay away from late night snacks; eat dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.

Find a fun alarm clock. While waking up to alarms is almost never fun, there are ways to ease the wake-up call. Focus on finding an alarm clock that suits your unique needs. You’ll need to find one that ensures you actually wake up, but also makes the transition enjoyable. Keep these tips in mind:
  • Skip alarm clocks that emit bright blue light that can interfere with sleep. Opt for one that uses softer amber, orange or red to help you sleep more soundly.
  • Choose an alarm clock that wakes you with a sound that you enjoy, whether that's the news, your favorite music or nature sounds. Consider one that gradually increases the volume to gently rouse you.
  • Look for fun features that make sure you won't oversleep. Some alarm clocks have a light that turns on slowly at the time you should wake. Others vibrate the bed to help wake you.

Don’t lose sleep over the time change this weekend.

Because we spend about a third of our lives asleep, practicing healthy sleep habits will ensure that you feel your best each and every day. In fact, this weekend’s time change is a great opportunity to reevaluate your bedtime routines and make adjustments for a better night’s sleep.

There are a number of things that can impact our quality of sleep each night. If you aren’t sleeping well, don’t suffer through it, let the experts help. The specialists at The Center for Sleep Disorders at Gwinnett Medical Center will work with you to identify the cause behind your sleepiness and provide effective treatment options.

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